Three influential leaders of the conservative movement have summoned other top conservatives for a closed-door meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C., to talk about how to stop Donald Trump and, should he become the Republican nominee, how to run a third-party “true conservative” challenger in the fall. The organizers of the meeting include Bill Wichterman, who was President George W. Bush’s liaison to the conservative movement; Bob Fischer, a South Dakota businessman and longtime conservative convener; and Erick Erickson, the outspoken Trump opponent and conservative activist who founded RedState.com. “Please join other conservative leaders to strategize how to defeat Donald Trump for the Republican nomination,” the three wrote in an invitation obtained by POLITICO that recently went out to conservative leaders, “and if he is the Republican nominee for president, to offer a true conservative candidate in the general election.”
The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, two days after winner-take-all Florida and Ohio vote in what many Republican operatives believe will determine whether Trump is on an unstoppable march to the nomination or is likely to stall out short of the 1,237 delegates he needs.
One person involved in the gathering described it as in the “embryonic” stages.“ It’s not like there’s a royal grand plan that’s going to be unfurled,” this person said. “People aren’t giving up on the Republican Party yet.”
Still, Wichterman, Fischer, and Erickson represent three boldface names to host such a gathering. All three have deep ties to the social conservative movement, which Ted Cruz has tried to unite behind his candidacy. Wichterman, in addition to his top job for Bush, served as a senior adviser to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He now works for Covington, a law firm in Washington, D.C.